The quality of diagnostic guidelines for children in primary care: A meta-epidemiological study
Thomas ET., Thomas ST., Perera R., Gill PJ., Moloney S., Heneghan C.
Aim: To determine the quality of paediatric guidelines relevant to diagnosis of three of the most common conditions in primary care: fever, gastroenteritis and constipation. Methods: We undertook a meta-epidemiological study of paediatric guidelines for fever, gastroenteritis and gastroenteritis. We systematically searched MEDLINE, Embase, Trip Database, Guidelines International Network, the National Guideline Clearinghouse and WHO from February 2011 to September 2022 for guidelines from high-income settings containing diagnostic recommendations. We assessed the quality of guideline reporting for included guidelines using the AGREE II tool. Results: We included 16 guidelines: fever (n = 7); constipation (n = 4) and gastroenteritis (n = 5). The overall quality across the three conditions was graded moderate (median AGREE II score 4.5/7, range 2.5–6.5) with constipation guidelines rated the highest (median 6/7), and fever rated the lowest (median 3.8/7). Major methodological weaknesses included consideration of guideline applicability. Half of the guidelines did not report involving parent representatives, and 56% did not adequately declare or address their competing interests. Conclusions: Substantial variations exist in the quality of paediatric guidelines related to the diagnosis of primary care presentations. Better quality guidance is needed for general practitioners to improve diagnosis for children in primary care.